Story and photos by Richard Underdahl-Peirce, Red Cross Volunteer
On a crisp and sunny Saturday morning, thirty-eight volunteers spread out across Plainview, Minnesota, to install more than 300 smoke alarms in family homes. On the previous Saturday, volunteers had canvassed around 400 homes in the community to identify where new fire detectors should be added or old ones replaced. Now, on September 19, 2015, firefighters, community and American Red Cross volunteers went in teams of three to five to install the new fire alarms and to give home safety materials concerning home fire prevention and escape planning as part of the national Red Cross Home Fire Campaign.
As the volunteers gathered at the Plainview Fire Department, the Sievers family was there to greet and thank them for the Red Cross help they received following a home fire disaster. A year ago Bobbie and Jake, and their young son, escaped from a fire that damaged the front of their house and up into the rafters. Red Cross volunteers responded, providing food and clothing for humanitarian relief after the disaster. Finally, last December, they moved back home with much appreciation for the assistance they had received from local American Red Cross volunteers. The Sievers family was a concrete reminder to the volunteers of the importance of what they were doing this day.
Volunteers came from Plainview and neighboring communities. Some, like Bev Holzheu, from Zumbrota, also had helped in the pre-canvassing in Lake City, where home safety materials and smoke alarms were given out by Red Cross volunteers. Others, like Michael Burgdorf, were long-time residents of Plainview and fire department volunteers as well.
Residents receiving the smoke alarms ranged from young parents to senior citizens. Sarah Hassig, a mother with young children, had three new smoke alarms installed in the home where they have lived for ten years. James Haley, a twenty year home owner and proud grandparent, also had three new smoke alarms installed. His three dogs delighted in being petted by the visitors – one of the side benefits of being a Red Cross Home Fire Campaign volunteer!
The morning passed quickly, and the volunteers enjoyed rolls provided by the local Kwik Trip, plus water and pop on their return to the fire department. But most of all they left with the thanks of dozens of residents, and the satisfaction of improving the safety of the homes of so many men, women and children.
Super awesome: an additional 143 smoke alarms were installed on Sunday and during the following week! To learn more about the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign, click here. To get involved, contact your local Red Cross.